The National Identification Authority (NIA), has rubbished the nationwide SIM Card re-registration by the mobile phone network operators, saying it cannot use the biometric data the telcos are collecting for the National Communications Authority (NCA) to verify what is in its database.
This, the Executive Secretary of the NIA, Prof. Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, explained in a letter dated September 13, 2021, is because the “NIA cannot endorse or guarantee the quality of the biometrics to be captured by NCA (during the SIM Card registration exercise) with devices the NIA has not duly certified”.
According to the NIA boss, “the efficacy of these verification will depend on the quality of the data collected from SIM Card holders and transmitted to NIA ”, however, the devices being used to collect the data are neither guaranteed nor agreed with the NCA.
The 3-page letter, revealed lack of teamwork between the NIA and the NCA, which are both under the Communications Ministry led by Ursula Owusu-Akuful are not working together. It is unclear, what accounts for this.
Prof. Attafuah’s letter, whose recipient had been blocked, had stated that “the devices to be used by the NCA for any offline verification services will have to be tested and certified by NIA and IMS II to confirm their technical suitability and ability to read Ghana Card. This is essential to NIA’s statutory obligation to preserve the accuracy, integrity and reliability of the NIS database and the Ghana Card”.
Others have said that the Telcos, are just taking pictures of fingerprints and are not collecting live fingerprints.
Another striking part of the letter said, “technically, NIA is unable to verify against the NIS database non-live biometric information of applicants once collected and stored by third parties. NIA cannot guarantee the quality and accuracy of the biometric data collected and transferred to it by a user agency. As NIA is not part of the biometric data collection stage of the SIM card registration process, it is also unable to confirm that it is in a position to verify the non-live biometric information to be collected by the telecommunication companies or NCA for and on behalf of the telecommunications companies”.
The Herald’s information is that about GH¢10 million, had moved from the coffers of the National Communications Authority (NCA) to the Ministry of Commutations to finance the SIM Card re-registration , ahead of the exercise.
The suggestion by the NIA, therefore, that the exercise is a “useless” venture, begs the question, as to whether some state officials behind this wanton dissipation of state funds, cannot be cited for causing financial loss to the state.
“NIA is unable to confirm that the biometric data to be collected by the NCA for the purpose described above, will meet the standard to enable successful verification against the National Identification System (NIS) database.”
According to NIA, it is not involved in the App, which The Herald picked up was allegedly developed by KelniGVG to register the SIMs.
“The use of an App that is not developed or certified by NIA to read the Ghana Card using a two-step data collection and verification process is outside NIA’s control. NIA is therefore unable to guarantee the results of such a process” adding, “there will be chaos in the ID ecosystem if any entity can develop its own application to read the Ghana Card and declare the resultant verification feedback as an official one for and on behalf of NIA. It must be emphasized, rather NIA cannot defend disputes and lawsuits emanating from such reading and verifications processes.”
According to NIA, if there should be any form of verification, it should be a live biometric data against what is on the card to establish the identity of the person and that is not what the Telcos and NCA are doing.
“With reference to Regulation 9 of L.1.2111 titled Power to verify identity by biometric match, persons who wish to ascertain the authenticity of the Ghana Card must use a portable identity card reader to scan the individual’s fingerprints and match the template of the live print with that which is stored in a storage medium embodied in the Ghana Card or the NIS database through a secure link.
“As NIA is not part of the biometric data collection stage of the SIM card registration process, it is also unable to confirm that it is in a position to verify the non-live biometric information to be collected by the telecommunication companies or NCA for and on behalf of the telecommunications companies.”